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Panat Times

Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


Orest's Pages

Patricia's Musings



Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


St. Charles Borromeo, Mme de Guise and the Confrérie de la Charité

For November 4, 1679, Marc-Antoine Charpentier composed an histoire sacrée (oratorio) in honor of St. Charles Borromeo: Pestis Mediolanensis (H.398). He copied it into cahiers 23-24 of vol. 3 (fols 120-30). Pestis was apparently revived between late 1680 and late 1683, because he copied a prelude for it into notebook XXIII. (1)

Back in the 1990s, when I was drafting my chronologies of Charpentier's compositions. I hypothesized that this work was written for the annual musical festivities of the Confraternity of Saint Charles Borromeo at the church of Saint-Jean-de-la-Boucherie. (2) (This hypothesis led me to suggest that the oratorio was written for February 1680.)

Over the years, as I became better acquainted with Isabelle d'Orléans (better known as "Mme de Guise"), I began to suspect that the festivities at Saint-Jacques were simply too raucous to have been patronized by Louis XIV's pious first cousin. Hoping one day to solve the mystery of why someone in the Guise circle was celebrating the charitable actions of St. Charles Borromeo, I kept my eyes peeled for allusions to that particular saint. I found some interesting booklets about a confraternity that venerated St. Charles for his charitable activities and of which Mme de Guise was a pillar during the late 1670s. Other obligations and other more pressing investigations were occupying my time, however, so I tucked my notes into a folder — where they lay more or less forgotten.

In October 2013 I posted my Musing about St. Cecilia. In it I argued that Pestis Mediolanensis (H.398) seems to have been written for an event sponsored by a devotion or confraternity with which Mme de Guise was associated. (But what devotion? Which confraternity?) This prompted me to dig out my neglected folder on St. Charles Borromeo. As I drafted the Musing on Cecilia, I became increasingly convinced that Pestis Mediolanensis is linked to one of Mme de Guise's devotions. I therefore included that particular oratorio in the little presentation of  virtuous women and courageous saints whom the princess was honoring in music. Not only honoring them in music, but honoring them by hiring quite sumptuous musical ensembles that, presumably, performed in equally sumptuous churches. No ordinary subject of Louis XIV would organize that sort of musical event, 1675-1679. The prologue of an opera, or the épître of a book dedicated to the king and presented to him on bended knee, generally included one or more veiled allusions to the king himself or to a project dear to him. By evoking that project, the artist or the donor demonstrated his support of the project, his loyalty to the monarch, and his hope for reward. The amount spent on the event or the publication not only had to be worthy of the monarch, it had to mirror the social status of the donor who, by organizing such a splendid event or printing such a luxuriously bound book, demonstrated the requisite "magnificence" and "generosity" toward the king. (3)

That is exactly what the person was doing who commissioned Judith, Esther, the first two of Charpentier's four Caecilia's, and Pestis Mediolanensis. That individual (presumably it was one of the two Guise women because all these oratorios were filed away in the notebooks where Charpentier kept his compositions for the Guises) was declaring herself ready to give her life to her country and her religion; she was stating her determination to help the king convert Protestants; and she was affirming her intention to contribute her time and her wealth to the hospitals and charitable organizations whose creation Louis XIV had recently ordered. The evidence suggests that it was Isabelle d'Orléans (Mme de Guise) who commissioned these works. This does not, of course, mean that the older Guise woman, Marie de Lorraine, duchess of Guise ("Mlle de Guise"), did not, at some point, espouse the same charitable and devotional activities as Mme de Guise. However, the evidence does not point to her thus far. Indeed, it would have been presumptuous for Mlle de Guise to suggest that she could somehow serve Louis XIV by being his Judith, his Esther, his Cecilia, his Charles Borromeo.

As the documents quoted below demonstrate, the libretto for Pestis Mediolanensis clearly was shaped by Mme de Guise's association with a group of pious women who helped the poor and the sick and who directed the Confrérie de la Charité, the Confraternity of Charity.

But before introducing these women, I will sketch a brief portrait of Charles Borromeo and his role as an inspirational exemplum for the members of this confraternity.

St. Charles Borromeo, a saint to imitate

These "confraternities of charity" were created in response to lettres de cachet like the one that Louis XIV sent to a bishop in 1677, and which reflected the advice the king had received from the Assembly of the Clergy of 1670. In these letters, the king urged the creation of hôpitaux généraux in the major cities, and of confréries de la charité in the parishes, in imitation of St. Charles Borromeo.

 In addition to the usual charitable activities (visiting the sick and prisoners, collecting alms for the poor), these confraternities were supposed to provide free medicine and to work to convert Protestants (known as to the French by the name "Huguenots").

In the royal lettres de cachet, Charles Borromeo and his hospitals and confraternities are paralleled with the confraternities and hospitals to be created throughout France : ... à l'instar de celles [confréries] de Charles Boromée, "in the manner of the confraternities of Charles Borromeo." (4)

Born into a noble family, Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) was cardinal archbishop of Milan. He worked diligently in his diocese to bring about the reforms prescribed by the Council of Trent. His charity was exemplary. For example, during a food scarcity in 1571, he went into debt to provide food for the hungry, and he urged public figures to give alms. When plague broke out in 1576, the governor of Milan and many nobles fled the contagion, but Borromeo remained there, organizing the care of the sick and ministering to the dying. He summoned the superiors of all the religious communities in the diocese and obtained their cooperation. Borromeo did not live long enough to carry out his program to convert heretics.

For members of the Confraternity of Charity, Charles Borromeo was an exemplary figure, (5) a model of charitable conduct to emulate. The règlements ("regulations") of the Confraternity refer to him repeatedly:

Suivant la pratique de la primitive Eglise, celle du Roy S. Louis, de S. Charles Boromée, ...; Dans le dernier siecle ces grands saints et Archevesques, S. Charles Borromée ont suivi l'ancienne pratique de l'Eglise. S. Charles entr'autres, qui avoit ... establi des Confreries de la charité dans toutes ses Parroisses, fit quester, par tout, pendant une cruelle Peste, qui desoloit une partie de son Diocese, qu'il assista par ce moyen....; il n'y avoit qu'à imiter ... S. Charles Boromée ... il n'y avoit qu'à faire comme [lui]...; Nostre grand saint et grand Archevesque S. Charles Boromée leur disoit, quand dans une Paroisse il n'y auroit que 2 Paroissiens, et tous deux pauvres, on peut establir cette Confrerie de la charité .... (file 1, pp. 3, 5, 16, 32).

(Note: Throughout this Musing I will refer to two "files," and to specific pages or dates within them; those files are reproduced at the end of this Musing.)

"One need only imitate Saint Charles, Borromeo, ... one need only do as he did." In other words, for members of the Confraternity of Charity, Borromeo's charitable activities were — to borrow Monsieur Du Bois's expression in the Prologue to Charpentier's final Caecilia (H.415a) — a speculum vitae, a regula vitae, a "mirror of life," a "rule of life."

The Confréries de la Charité

Various "confréries de la charité" had existed in France since the late 1638s, under the impetus of Gaston de Renty, and later of Queen Anne of Austria and the principal women at the royal court (file 1, pp. 24-25). During roughly the same years, a group of wellborn laywomen known as the "Ladies of Charity" (Dames de la Charité) was coalescing around St. Vincent de Paul. Among them were Madeline Potier de Lamoignon, wife of the First President in the Parlement of Paris; her daughter Madeleine de Lamoignon; and her other daughter Anne de Lamoignon (Mme de Nesmond); and Marie Bonneau de Miramion, a devout young widow who had vowed to spend her life helping the poor. (6)

By the 1670s these founders, now elderly, were being replaced by the next generation of devout and well-to-do women who wanted to devote their time and their wealth to helping the less fortunate. Mme de Miramion, now in her late forties, became the central pillar upon whom the Ladies of Charity relied. After 1677, she was aided by Edmé Joly, superior general of the Congregation of the Mission, her spiritual advisor. Working closely with Miramion was Marie Amelot, the widow of Antoine de Nicolaï, First President in the Chambre des Comptes. Mme de Nicolaï was the Superior of the branch of the Confraternity that helped people during "des misères extraordinaires," and especially people who had been "burned, pillaged, or ravaged by war, plague, famine, and other misfortunes" (file 1, p. 32). Another branch of the Ladies of Charity was "caring for newly converted women" and running a "seminary" -- apparently an establishment whose purpose was to instruct Huguenots in Catholic doctrine.

In the mid-1670s, each week an "assemblée illustre" would meet at Mme de Nicolaï's residence (file 1, p. 3). Another assembly of women was described as an "assemblée tres-illustre": very illustrious because most of these women were great nobles, as contrasted with the merely "illustrious" women who came from parlementary families and whose assembly consequently was less prestigious. In 1676 Mme de Guise was a superior in the "very illustrious" assembly; she represented her parish of Saint-Sulpice (file 1, p. 32).

One of the Confraternity's missions was caring for newly converted women. Mme de Guise was doing just that during the mid-1670s; and, conforming to the règlements of the Confraternity, she was working closely with the Jesuits: "les Reverends Peres Jesuites peuvent presque seuls extirper l'heresie en France, procurant aux convertis toutes les assistances dont ils auront besoin." In addition, the Jesuits were in a position to instruct Huguenot children; and they had a ninety per-cent success rate (file 1, pp. 17-18).

As I showed in my Musing on Charpentier's successive histoires sacrées about St. Cecilia, in November 1676 Mme de Guise and a Jesuit father brought about the abjuration of a noble Huguenot woman at the Jesuit Novitate. If Mme de Guise accepted this responsibility, it doubtlessly was owing to her lofty position as one of the "Dames de Charité" who were the driving force of the Parisian Confraternity of Charity. In other words, Charpentier's first two oratorios in honor of St. Cecilia (and perhaps all of them?) have the Confraternity as a raison d'être.

Another of Mme de Guise's concerns, as superior of a confraternity whose règlements emphasized the distribution of medications to the sick and poor, was to obtain those medications as economically as possible. (7) Indeed, her parish of Saint-Sulpice soon became a veritable drug dispensary. For example, in 1677 it was announced that the hôpitaux généraux could obtain free medicine for the poor at Saint-Sulpice: "On n'aura qu'à s'adresser au Secretaire de ladite Assemblée charitable à Paris, chez M. le Curé de S. Sulpice." Another announcement (it too dates from circa 1677) states that medicines can be requested from the Secretary: just ask the door porter at Saint-Sulpice, and he will "tell you where [the Secretary] lives." There was, however, a caveat: the rich need not apply because the Secretary "n'en donne point aux riches, gratuitement, ny pour argent." (8)

Medicines were also needed at Alençon, because:

... la Duchesse de Guise, qui est très charitable, y a estably un Hospital, le R.P. Chaurand [a Jesuit] leur a obtenu de cette Princesse des remedes pour les pauvres, et joindra à cette Confrerie celle des hommes qui prennent soin des pauvres honteux, valides, Prisonniers, Heretiques convertis et travaillent à l'accord des procez et des querelles. ... Ledit R.P. Chaurand fait à present la Mission en la Ville d'Alançon; Il y a trouvé une Confrerie de la Charité, qui prend soin des malades seulement. (9)

Some of these medications came directly from Cosimo III de Médicis, the grand duke of Tuscany, Mme de Guise's brother-in-law. And, noblesse oblige, Mme de Guise paid nothing for them! For example, on March 14, 1678, she "reminded" the Grand Duke's staff in Florence that for her pious activities she had requested that Cosimo send some medications: unguento da nervi, orvietano, teriaca, acqua teriacale, olio da ferite, terra sigillata, and a bit of giulette gemmato. Gondi, the Grand Duke's resident in Paris, struggled to find a polite way of refusing, because the Grand Duke was exasperated at his sister-in-law's endless demands. (10)

In sum, during the late 1670s and on into the 1680s, Mme de Guise was not simply bringing about conversions (in emulation of St. Cecilia), she was also procuring medications, meeting each week with the ladies of the two illustrious assemblies -- and asking Monsieur Charpentier (and Monsieur Du Bois) to prepare oratorios about St. Cecilia and St. Charles Borromeo.

Early on, she had become very close to Mme de Miramion. After her weekly lunch at the Hôtel de Guise, Mme de Guise and her sister, the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, would go to Miramion's Parisian residence; from there, they would proceed to the "assembly" at Mme de Nicolaï's home: "J'ay esté occupée continuellement jusqu'à ce qu'il m'a falu aller à l'assemblée des Dames," wrote Mme de Miramion, in 1679, " pour laquelle on m'est venu presser à cause que Madame la Grande Duchesse et Madame de Guise y doivent venir, ainsy qu'elles ont fait. ..." (11)

It is therefore not surprising that, as early as February 1678, Mme de Guise had begun periodically withdrawing to a building beyond the Porte Saint-Martin run by Mme de Miramion. There she would remain for several days, in "retreat," helping the regular staff care for the poor (file 2). (12) At an unspecified date but probably during the early 1680s, Mme de Miramion began construction of a retreat house where women of all classes could go on retreat. Mme de Guise contributed at least 6,000 livres to the project — ten percent of the total cost. It took two years to build this retreat house, which had fifty rooms-cells, a refectory and an "exercise room":

Madame de Miramion en règla le spirituel et le temporel, et trouva à propos que les retraites des Dames durassent sept jours, pendant lesquelles elles coucheroient touttes dans la maison; et que les retraites des Pauvres, où l'on reçoit aussi des femmes et des filles de médiocre condition, ne dureroient que cinq jours, qu'on en pourroit recevoir jusqu'à six-vingts à chaque fois, que l'on ne retiendroit à coucher que celles qui viendroient de la campagne;: et à l'égard de celles de Paris, elles retourneroient tous les soirs chés elles, et reviendroient les matins, et qu'on les nourriroit toutes aux dépens de la Providence. (13)

Week by week, month by month, year by year, Mme de Guise's charitable activities shaped her personality. In November 1682, the ironic M. de Saint-Frique, an informant for the Grand Duke of Tuscany, commented:

Mme de Guise est devotte à vint et quatre cara[t]s. Elle songe continuelement aux charités des prieures, elle leur donne tout ce qu'elle peut ...; on ne joue jamais chès elle qu'il n'y aye à chaque sceance une boëte des pauvres remplie quasy du quart de tout ce qui se gaigne à chaque reprise. Enfin, elle fait son capital en cette vie, elle en aura le proffit indubitablement dans l'autre. Elle fait tout ce qu'il faut pour escalader le ciel. (14)

In 1690, Spanheim painted a similar word-portrait:

[Mme de Guise est] d'une taille moins belle et aisée [que sa sœur, la Grande Duchesse de Toscane], d'un visage qu'on peut dire ni beau ni laid, d'une humeur fort charitable, et d'un esprit entièrement tourné, depuis son veuvage, à une dévotion outrée. Ce qu'elle a affecté, entre autres, de faire paroître dans la conversion prétendue des gens de la Religion [R.P.R., i.e., Huguenots] qui se trouvoient dans les lieux de son domaine ou patrimoine, comme à Alençon ou d'ailleurs [sic] qui étoient de sa connoissance. Je laisse à part le zèle et la charité qui la portent à visiter régulièrement les hôpitaux, y panser les malades, leur donner à manger, ensevelir les morts, et y faire d'autres fonctions pareilles. (15)

The princess's devotion to the work being done by Mme de Miramion did not slacken. February 1686 found her "en retraitte chez Mademoiselle [sic] de Miramion. And a few months later, on July 28, she sought guidance from Mme de Miramion about a retreat house she was planning for her duchy of Alençon (file 2).

To conclude:

Mme de Guise's charitable trajectory having been traced from 1676 into the early 1680s, the libretto of Pestis Medialanensis takes on new meaning. We begin to understand why the libretto is less about the "plague" than about caring for one's disadvantaged neighbors. Why it sings of "charity," "love for one's neighbor," "paupers," sickness," and "helping desperate people." We also begin to grasp the broader context within which Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Pestis Mediolanensis was composed: Mme de Guise was proclaiming her support of her royal cousin's charitable projects, and she was doing it with the magnificence appropriate to a petite-fille de France (a grand-daughter of Henry IV). We begin, too, to see that this oratorio is closely linked to Charpentier's first two oratorios for St. Cecilia.

On the other hand, we still do not know where Pestis was performed in 1679, nor where it was performed again in the early 1680s. The reason behind a revival of this work begins to emerge, however: that is, the evidence shows that, in the early 1680s, Mme de Guise was deeply involved in Mme de Miramion's new retreat house. Finally, we must continue to hypothesize about the venue or venues where Pestis Mediolanensis may have been performed. That said, I propose three places: the Theatine church of Sainte-Anne-la-Royale, the church of Saint-Sulpice, or Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet. Mme de Guise had chapels in the first two churches, and Saint-Nicolas was the center of Mme de Miramion's activities.

File 1

Reglemens des Confreries de la Charité qu'on établit à present par tout le Royaume, à l'instar des Assemblées de la primitive Eglise, et Confreries du grand S. Charles Boromée dans le dernier siecle. Source: Bibliothèque mazarine, A 16599

[p. 1:] "Les confreries s'erigent sous la protection de Nostre-Seigneur et de la sainte-Vierge, fait à Paris par un missionnaire, l'an 1676."

"On voit par experience, que ces Confreries où elles sont establies, secourent tous les Pauvres, tous les Prisonniers, tous les Heretiques convertis, tous les Soldats, & Matelots infirmes, alans & revenans des Armées. Qu'elles accordent un grand nombre de procez et de querelles, et empeschent beaucoup de Duels, suivant les Edits, et intentions de sa Majesté.

"2. On voit encore, que ces Confreries establissent, et maintiennent ces Hospitaux generaux que sa Majesté veut qu'il y ait dans toutes les Villes. ...

"4. Ces confreries distribuent encore aux pauvres gens un certain remede universel, facile à prendre et a donner, qui guerit toutes sortes de maladies curable. ... Il couste peu. ..."

[p. 2:] "Ces Confreries s'appliquent aussi à present à la conversion des Heretiques et à secourir les convertis ..."

[p. 3:] "Suivant la pratique de la primitive Eglise, celle du Roy S. Louis, de S. Charles Boromée, et autres Saints Prelats, s'il y avoit des Conferies de la Charité dans toutes les Paroisses les miseres ordinaires et extraordinaires du Royaume seroient secouruës. Les Brulez, les Grelez; les affligez de la Peste, ou de famine, etc.

"Il y a à Paris une Assemblée Illustre, de Dames charitables, qui se tient [p. 4] chez Madame la Presidente Nicolaï."

[p. 5:] "S. Louis comme il a esté dit faisoit quester tous les ans, dans toutes les Parroises du Royaume, pour soustenir les pauvres....

"Dans le dernier siecle ces grands saints et Archevesques, Dom Barthelemy des Martyrs, S. Thomas de Villeneuve, et S. Charles Borromée ont suivi l'ancienne pratique de l'Eglise. S. Charles entr'autres, qui avoit comme les deux premiers, establi des Confreries de la charité dans toutes ses Parroisses, fit quester, par tout, pendant une cruelle Peste, qui desoloit une partie de son Diocese, qu'il assista par ce moyen...."

[p. 6:] "Quelques personnes charitables de Paris, qui sont de la premiere qualité et qui professent une vertu éminente, ayans esté inspirées de Dieu, entreprirent il y a quelques années de travailler d'une maniere sainte et extraordinaire au soulagement des pauvres, à l'aide des malades, et à la pacification des querelles qui ne naissent que trop souvent dans cette Capitale du Royaume, aussi bien qu'ailleurs,des procez qui sont parmy les fideles; et pour reüssir plus heureusement en leur entreprise, elles ont estably des Assemblée[s] et Confreries dans la Parroisse de S. Sulpice et ailleurs; et les ont composées des personnes de l'un et de l'autre sexe, qui sont non seulement des plus qualifiées mais des plus vertueuses qui s'occupent à ce saint employ durant toute l'année. M. les Curez sont les Directeurs ordinaires de ces Assembleés et Confreries, il 'sy trouve des Evesques, des Abbez, des Ecclesiastiqiues des Ducs et Pairs, des Cordons bleus, des Presidens, des Gentilshommes, des Marchands, et des Dames des plus considerables et des plus vertueuses de Paris; et d'autres femmes de diverses qualitez."

[p. 9:] The men fall into three groups: Ecclesiastics, magistrates, gentlemen; gens du Palais, bourgeois, merchants; artisans and the "people." The first group pacifies quarrels of the highest ranking people, second group of lesser ranking people, and the lower group helps bury the dead and participates in the "ceremonies Publiques qui se font...avec l'habit et le nom de la Confrerie" ... [does this imply that the upper crust does not appear in public that way, and certainly not the ladies?]
"Quant aux femmes, de quelque rang des trois qu'elles soient, on les occupe particulierement à assister les pauvres malades et à faire les questes ordinaires pour les soulager."

[p. 11:] "Si l'Assemblée est nombreuse, toutes les fois qu'elle se tiendra, on en deputera deux pour adorer le S. Sacrement, deux pour visiter l'Hospital, deux pour visiter les prisons, et deux pour Communier." ... and they will report back to the Assembly.

[p. 13:] "Le jour du Patron marqué dans la Bulle, on exposera le saint Sacrement, on fera une Procession publique, on y portera l'image de la sainte Vierge." All Confrères who take communion will earn an indulgence.

[pp. 13, 14:] the rules very closely resemble those of other confraternities .

[p. 15:] "Touchant les Heretiques convertis: "Depuis les Reglemens cy dessus faits, il s'est veu tant de Conversions procurées par ces Confreries et tant de convertis secourus, que toutes s'y appliquent à present, à l'exemple des Assemblées de Paroisse et Conferies de Paris, ..."

[p. 16:] These conversions were Cardinal Richelieu's plan, as confirmed in Acts of Apostles, etc... "et que S Charles Boromée dans le dernier siecle avoit si parfaitement executé, et par ce moyen arresté le cours de l'Heresie naissante ... dont il convertit un tres-grand nombre." A long paragraph follows about Richelieu and the need to convert the Huguenots: "il n'y avoit qu'à imiter ... S. Charles Boromée ... Qu'il n'y avoit qu'à faire comme eux, à establir des assemblées et Confreries dans toutes les Villes où il y avoit des Heretiques; et des Seminaires ou maison de retraite dans tous les Dioceses."

[p. 17:] "On commence à le faire graces à Dieu, par le moyen de ces Confreries de la charité, tout le monde s'y met, et donne volontiers, et si liberalement, pour la conversion des Heretiques. ..."
And "this year," 1676, "par Arrest du Conseil Royal, du mois de Juillet dernier, La Conseillere, Ministre à Alençon, a esté exilé pour avoir declamé contre l'authorité du Roy et du Pape.
[p. 24:] These confréries de la Charité were created (in collaboration with Gaston de Renty) by M. Bernière, maître des requêtes who "quita sa charge pour se donner tout entier à soulager des millions de pauvres qui perissoient à Paris et dans les Provinces pendant les dernieres guerres." Like St. Charles, they had libraries and loaned books to curés and priests.

p. 25:] "A ces grands personnages, le Baron de Ranti [Renty] et M. Bernière, a succedé l'Assemblée charitable de Paris, qui travaille aussi, depuis si long temps, à establir ces Confréries de la charité dans toutes les Paroisses du Royaume, et qui se peuvent establir dans un an, si tous les Pasteurs vouloient s'y appliquer.

"La feue Reyne Mere [Anne of Austria] estoit Superieure de l'Assemblée et Confrerie de la Charité des sa Parroisse, la Princesse de Conti de la sienne, visitoient les pauvres et les Prisonniers tout plein [sic] d'autres Princesses, Duchesses et Mareschalles de France, le font tous les jours. Madame de la Moignon, Premiere Presidente, le fait avec une charité admirable et tout plein d'autres, dont parle le Livre intitulé Le Paroissien charitable by M. Lescot, curé de Paris." That book shows how the "grandes Dames de Paris" help the poor. See also Le Chrestien charitable by R.P. Bonnefons, SJ. [available at Mazarine, call number 25094, written in 1646].

[p. 25:] it was, says this booklet, in 1676 that Louis XIV "exhorted" the bishops to create the Hôpital général in their city...

[p. 28:] it is the Missionnaires' job to get these Confraternities going ...

[p. 31:] The indulgences of these confraternities of Charity "sont aussi grandes que celles des Agonisans, qui sont les plus amples..."

" Dans toutes les Paroisses de Paris il y a des Assemblées ou Confreries, qui prennent soin des pauvres hommes, des honteux, des Prisonniers, des nouveaux convertis, et de l'accord des procez et querelles. Les Dames prennent soin des malades ... et ont relation avec les Assemblées et Confreries des hommes. Outre cela il y a une Assemblée particuliere, composée de diverses [p. 32] Paroisses, qui prennent le soin en general de secourir tous les Prisonniers, les delivrer, accorder leur procez pour injures, ou pour debtes, etc. Il y en a encore une autre de Dames qui prennent soin principalement des besoins corporels des Prisonniers. Madame de la Moignon, premiere Presidente du Parlement, en est la Superieure. Il y a une autre illustre Assemblée de Dames, qui prenne [sic] soin de procurer du secours aux miseres extraordinaires, aux bruslez, pillez ou ravagez par les guerres,peste, famine et autres malheurs. Madame Nicolai, premiere Presidente des Comptes en est la Superieure, et M. [Edmé] Joly, General des Missionnaires, en est Directeur.

"Il y a encore une autre Assemblée tres-illustre de Dames qui prennent soin des nouvelles converties et de leur Seminaire. Cette Assemblée est composée commes les autres, de Princesses, Duchesses, Mareschales de France, Presidentes, Conseilleres et Bourgeoises. Madame de Louvoy [Louvois] est la Superieure, qui est femme de M. de Louvoy, [Michel de Le Tellier de Louvois] Ministre et Secretaire d'Estat. La Princesse de Conty, qui vivoit comme une sainte, a esté Superieure en divers lieux. La duchesse de Guise qui est une autre princesse, l'est à present à S. Sulpice; et la feu Reyne Mere l'a esté dans sa Paroisse." Once again there is an evocation of St. Charles Boromeo: "Nostre grand saint et grand Archevesque S. Charles Boromée leur disoit, quand dans une Paroisse il n'y auroit que 2 Paroissiens, et tous deux pauvres, on peut establir cette Confrerie de la charité ..." ; and on p. 33, the evocation of his creation of confraternities ...
[p. 33:] "Il n'y a aussi qu'à imiter la conduite de nostre grand Cardinal et S. Archevesque de Milan. ..."

[p. 33:] "La Reyne [Marie Thérèse] heureusement regnante, l'imite parfaitement; elle est Superieure de la Confrerie de Sainte Elisabeth Princess de Hongrie, qui s'applique à toutes ces actions de Charité."

[p. 34:] "Qu'il est bon que ces Confreries soient erigées sous le Patronnage du Saint Enfant-Jesus et de la Sainte Vierge sa Mere; et pourquoy:

"Dès le moment de l'Incarnation, la sainte Vierge alla, avec l'Enfant-Jesus, qu'elle portoit dans ses entrailles, visiter et servir sainte Elisabeth dans ses couches ... pour montrer ... que les actions de charité se doivent faire promptement et gayement. S. Jean tressaillit de joye dans le ventre de sa sainte mere, se voyant honoré d'une telle visite, qui marque la joye qu'ont les Enfans des pauvres quand ils se voyent visitez par les riches ... et que la Sainte Vierge ... [recited the Magnificat] pour nous faire connoistre que la visite des pauvres excite un cercle de louanges de la part des pauvres et des riches, qui monte...jusques au throsne du Seigneur."

[p. 51:] The Society of Jesus is asked to help found these Confréries.

File 2

This file consists of references of Mme de Guise's activities with Mme de Miramon and Mme de Nicolai: Source: Med. del Prin., 4769, 4821, and 4783

Feb, 17, 1678 - Mme de Guise has withdrawn for 9 days to a house for women outside the Porte St. Martin where there is a sort of clausura as for nuns, and where they care for the sick.

Mar. 11, 1678 - Mme de Toscane goes to the "assembly for the poor" (assemblé de poveri) and brings food.

Mar. 25, 1678 - after lunch at the Hotel de Guise, Mme de Guise went to St. Sulpice, presumably for her charitable activities.

Apr. 21, 1678 - As was her wont, after the Wednesday lunch at Hotel de Guise Mme de Guise (and Mme de Toscane?) went to "l'assemblée des pauvres chez la presidente de Nicolaï."

Apr. 22, 1678 - Mme de Toscane and Mme de Guise plan to attend a retreat outside the Porte Saint-Martin, where one helps the poor and sick inside the large convent-like house where "many women" live and give alms. And in code: "et delle quali Dama la Da Mme di Guisa con altre Dame ancora ne tengono la direzione."

July 22, 1678 - Mme de Guise and Mme de Toscane have done the same at Alençon, serving the sick in the hospital of Alençon and visiting convents and feeding prisoners.

Feb. 10, 1679 - Mme de Guise has gone to the "Filles de la Charité" beyond the Porte Saint Martin for several days. (Does the use of the word "filles" suggest that St. Vincent de Paul's filles de la Charité, founded in the 1630s, were collaborating with Miramion and were nursing the poor at the retreat house?)

Feb 16, 1686 - Mme de Toscane writes that Mme de Guise was "en retraitte chez Mademoiselle [sic] de Miramion."

July 28, 1686 - The Grande Mademoiselle writes that Mme de Guise will be in Paris, chez Mme de Miramion. (That seems related to the fact that Mme de Guise is creating a Miramion house at Alençon. Mother de la Croix Reville, a Carmelite at rue du Bouloir, wrote: "Elle y fait un establissement des filles de Me de Miramion pour que les dames de la province y allent [sic] faire des retraittes.



1. See Catherine Cessac, "Chronologie raisonée des manuscrits autographes de Charpentier, Essai de Bibliographie matérielle," Bulletin Charpentier, 3 (2010-2013), tableau récapitulatif, XIII (online through the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, The table shows that the paper and the hand used for H.398 does in fact date from 1679: it is on paper PAP-83 and PAP83a, with watermark E and clefs S1.U1. Although the paper used for the prelude is the same as the paper used for H.398, the G clef is more modern: Cessac therefore dates the prelude as "late 1680-late 1683." In other words, the prelude (and H.168a, H.398a, H.404a and H.519) was copied onto some blank leaves at the end (that is an important detail!) of notebook XXIII, which contains a miscellany of preludes, symphonies, etc. To be still more precise, the 3 outer sheets of notebook XXIII are made of PAP-83, with watermark E, but the half sheets at the end of the notebook (folios 41-43) remained blank until at least the final months of 1680, when Charpentier changed his way of writing a G-clef. He used that new clef for the final four preludes and "symphonies" in that notebook — among them the prelude to Horrenda pestis.

2. In my now-defunct page called Reading of the Evidence for 1680, I quoted a description of this raucous event quoted by Marcelle Benoit.

3. Typical is the account of splendid celebration of Louis XIV's recovery organized by Mlle de Guise in the new abbey church of Montmartre in January 1687. It refers to the "magnificence d'une princesse aussi remplie de zele pour Sa Majesté qu'elle est naturellement génereuse et bienfaisante ...," Mercure galant, Jan. 1687, pp. 267-270 (my emphasis). The choice of venue paid a compliment to the king: "par la liberalité du Roy. ..." a new church had been built for what was known as the "abbaye d'en bas," situated near today's Place des Abbesses.

4. Bibliothèque mazarine, A 16599, pièce 3, dated 1677. For the hôpitaux généraux, see Daniel Hickey, Local Hospitals in Ancien Regime France (Montreal: McGill, 1997), especially pp. 56-59 and 199ff.

5. For the "exemplarity" of Charles Borromeo's conduct during the plague of Milan, see Anne Duprat, "Pestes et incendies: l'exemplarité du récit de témoin aux XVIe-XVIIe siècles," in Construire l'exemplarité: pratiques littéraires et discours historiens (XVI-XVIIIe siècles), ed. Laurence Giavarini, (Dijon, 2008), pp. 65-74.

6. For this circle, see Mary L Gude, C.S.C., "Madame de Miramion and the Friends of Vincent de Paul," Vincentian Heritage Journal, 20 (1999), pp. 239-251. See also François-Timoléon de Choisy, La Vie de Madame de Miramion (Paris: Desallier, 1706), available online though Google Books.

7. The Confraternity distributed medicines to the armies of Louis XIV, which "ont fait cesser la peste, d'abord, dissenterie et tous aux maux ...." In this context of medicines for the troops, Mme de Guise is mentioned: she is Superior of the confraternity at Saint-Sulpice — the exact place where medications could be obtained. Bibliothèque mazarine, A 16599, pièce 8, pp. 7, 65.

8. Bibliothèque mazarine, A 16599, pièce 3, p. 6; and A 16599, pièce 6, p. 2.

9. Bibliothèque mazarine, A 16599, pièce 4, p. 2.

10. Florence, Archivio di Stato, Med. del Prin., 4820. There are other references to medicines, for example April 29, 1678, but they are less explicit.

11. Miramion to Edmé Joly, dated Wed., Jan. 18, 1679, Bibliothèque mazarine, ms 1217. See also Dec. 22, 1679, which refers to the meeting each Wednesday; and Jan. 15, 1680, which mentions meetings at Miramion's home.

12. For the devotions during these retreats circa 1677, and the insights they contribute to our understanding of Mme de Guise's spirituality, see Choisy, Miramion, pp. 175 ff, and also prayers recited by these devout women, pp. 120-159.

13. Henri Sauval, Histoire et recherches des Antiquités de la ville de Paris (Paris, 1727), I, pp. 597-694, especially p. 692 for Mme de Guise. Much of Sauval's information comes from Choisy, Miramion, especially p. 264 (Mme de Guise's donation), pp. 265-274, and p. 345, where Choisy alludes to another donation by Mme de Guise.

14. Florence, Archivio di Stato, Med. del Prin., 4783, Nov. 20, 1682.

15. Ezechiel Spanheim, Relation de la cour de France en 1690, ed. Emile Bourgeois (Paris, 1900), p. 172.